The area of what has become known as Alice Springs …

Comment on Todd River: will we stand by and let the worst happen? by Hal Duell.

The area of what has become known as Alice Springs is currently experiencing its third social evolutionary change. Probably this evolution is the main reason why we can no longer have a wild bush river.
Where we live was first a pristine wilderness, and at that time the river would have truly been a wild bush river.
In the first change the area became Mbantua, a word that I understand simply means a meeting place. The changes from what was before would have been minimal. The wild and the bush qualities would have undergone almost no change.
In the second change, Mbantua became A Town Like Alice. Those living in Mbantua would have been shocked and resentful, and they resisted. Their river became the Todd River. It was partially tamed by the emergence of an outback town with its connecting causeways and bridges, its roads and railroads. But a small population would have allowed the wild bush river to remain mostly a wild bush river.
In the third change, the one we are living through today, A Town Like Alice is becoming Alice Springs, a fully urban multicultural Australian municipality. And the pressures of urban life, not all of them a comfortable experience, dictate that the wild and the bush be tamed and set aside for the healthy growth of the greater municipality.
Again there are some who are shocked and resentful, and who are resisting this latest change.
There are kilometers of river both north and south of Alice where biodiversity will continue to thrive. Setting aside a mere five kilometres threatens no species’ survival.
Waterholes, our billabongs, abound in the ranges east and west of Alice. We have our own recreation and a tourist industry that depends on their good health.
To take a whipper snipper to buffel grass to reduce the potential for tree-eating fires is not to make a lawn.
If the sand in Heavitree Gap is now one meter higher than it once was, doesn’t it follow that the riverbed upstream from the Gap is also higher? And wouldn’t lowering it allow more floodwater to escape before breaking the banks and flooding the town?
Rerouting the Ghan and elevating the highway would certainly increase the Todd’s flow, but where will that money come from?
Does anyone still think the culverts at the Taffy Pick crossing are a good idea?
The idea of a River Curator certainly has merit, but only if the curator understands the Todd River is a living, vibrant component of Alice Springs and not a museum where the artifacts must be shielded from threatening change. I would also hope a curator would be employed by our Town Council as that is the only democratically elected body in Alice answerable to all the town’s residents.

Hal Duell Also Commented

Todd River: will we stand by and let the worst happen?
I’m very glad to hear that the Athel Pines still in Alice will be going soon. Having seen what they did in the Finke River around Horseshoe Bend homestead, I cannot find any sympathy for them at all.
About the other trees Mike says are listed as weeds by Greening Australia, I have no opinion other than to hope that if they are removed, they are replaced so we can retain a riverside parkland along Stott Tce. That area really is a well-used and much loved pride of the river.
Have the seeds dropped into the Todd River by these mature exotics resulted in new growth downstream? Or will they be forced to go just because they are something new, just because they haven’t been here forever and a day?
I hope Greening Australia is not listing as weeds any tree not originally a native of Central Australia. I would hate to see a crusading nutter insist Alice lose the citrus and mulberry trees so many of us have in our yards and eat from when in fruit.

Todd River: will we stand by and let the worst happen?
I agree with you about the necessity to control weeds in the Todd River. Mexican Poppy and Athol Pine would be among the front line offenders. I am sure you would agree that they need to be eradicated wherever they are found in or adjacent to the river system.

Todd River: will we stand by and let the worst happen?
According to the Bonzle Digital Atlas of Australia, the Todd River is 272km long. A mere 5km flows through Alice Springs between the Telegraph Station Reserve and Heavitree Gap.
I am intrigued by Jane Clark’s question – how long until the river system reaches the tipping point? How many years do we actually have left?
For a lot of the old trees, time’s up. The arsonists have done for them.
But for the watercourse itself, it will remain a watercourse even if the riverbed fills with silt, spills out into the town and Alice reaches a tipping point.
To argue against doing anything is akin to the climate change deniers. Good arguments can be deployed to challenge the science of climate change, but meanwhile the arctic sea ice is shrinking, the glaciers are melting, etc.
In Alice Springs, the Todd is being choked by sand islands anchored by couch and buffel, the trees are being burned out by arsonists and the Town Council needs to grasp the nettle and assume control.
But then we come to Jane’s other question – who pays?
Good question, that.

Recent Comments by Hal Duell

Fracking OK, but under ‘strict laws’ – Gunner
From the moment Gunner failed to give an unequivocal NO to fracking during the last election, we all knew this was going to happen. It was just a matter of time.

‘Anzac Oval not for sale’: govt under pressure on gallery plans
I write this as an appeal to Chief Minister Gunner to reconsider his choice of the Anzac area as the location for the proposed National Aboriginal Art Gallery.
Not only did your own steering committee nominate the Desert Park as the optimal choice, but ever since your overriding of their recommendation, the wheels have been coming off what was once a project that had everyone on board.
Many in Alice recognize the heritage value of the old Anzac High School and the Anzac Oval, and while neither carries official heritage listing, I understand efforts are being made to rectify that.
Yes, it would be possible to relocate the rugby fields of Anzac Oval, but at what addition to the cost of building the proposed gallery?
I suggest the final nail in the coffin of public indifference regarding this issue was the published plans to do away with a car park that many who work in the CBD use every day.
The score so far seems to be the destruction of a still valuable building of heritage value and of an oval of similar value, the cost of a new rugby stadium and the cost of a new car park. And all that before construction on a new gallery can begin.
I ask you to please reconsider the Desert Park, as that choice would mean no valuable building to take down, and neither a new car park nor a new stadium needed. I suggest this would be a better choice both economically and politically. Not only would the project cost less, but it would not alienate any of your supporters in Alice Springs.
I will close with a cautionary note to the Gunner ALP government in Darwin: When you next come to town to consult, please don’t repeat your mistake of thinking Central Australia is fly over country.

Youth crisis: broken window of tolerance
As noted by all the comments so far, this is an excellent article, well reasoned and well presented.
But to engage with the marginalised youth in Alice in a positive manner, a venue is needed. Such a venue is at hand. The old Anzac High School would fill that bill admirably.
I hope our Town Council reads this article and carefully considers whether a MOU with Darwin concerning the proposed art gallery, which would destroy that high school building in a quest for more tourist dollars and a dubious attempt to reinvigorate the CBD, is really more important than attempting to address the very real youth social issues plaguing Alice Springs.

Private chats with govt heavy: mixed results
Jimmy, any chance you could expand on that comment for us?

Can Jacinta Price sit in Town Council and Federal Parliament?
@ Erwin: True, but here’s the thing. I have never expected Cr Price to serve out this four year term of Council. Surprise me by all means, but surprise me you will.
Am I bothered by this? If she resigns to take Yamba to Las Vegas, that would be one thing. But if she resigns to take her message of family responsibility to Canberra, that would be another.

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